Archives for posts with tag: HDU

Our Day 3 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is the sonic maelstrom of “Juggling Realms” by Kāhu Rōpū:

“Juggling Realms” is from the new 29 track Dunedin music compilation via Bandcamp called “…And It Could Be Right Now – New Music From Ōtepoti​/​Dunedin”.

Kāhu Rōpū are guitarist Tristan Dingemans (High Dependency Unit/HDU, Mountaineater), drummer Rob Falconer (Operation Rolling Thunder) and bassist Sam Healey.

The music of Kāhu Rōpū is heavy, intense, cinematic – as you would expect of a band with both Dingemans and Falconer.   

Too Tone NZ Music Month

NZ Music Every Godzone Month! sign from Too Tone Records in Dunedin.

Our New Zealand Music Month day #30 tune is the gorgeous instrumental “Lull” from High Dependency Unit (HDU):

“Lull” is from HDU’s 1998 album “Higher + +” which is one of the classic NZ experimental post-rock albums. It encapsulates perfectly the dreamy astral psychedelia side of the band, usually remembered for their searing futuristic “space blues” soundscapes of walls of firestorm guitar and thunderous bass over tight patterns of crunching drums.  It’s wonderful to see the whole glorious catalogue of HDU albums available on Bandcamp for new generations  and audiences to discover.

Too Tone NZ Music Month

Shop display of re-purposed NZ Music Month poster at Too Tone Records (2010-2017) in Dunedin.

Our New Zealand Music Month song for day # 17 is from Christchurch noise rock trio No Broadcast and their most recent single “WASTE”:

No Broadcast hail from Christchurch and evoke the spirit and sonic fury of High Dependency Unit/ HDU in the way they use sonic guitar textures combining elements of noise-rock, post-rock, shoegaze and post-punk into a frenetic stew of noisy but melodic guitar rock.

No Broadcast are Josh Braden (Guitar and Vocals), Thomas Isbister (Drums) and Kieran Colina (Bass) and are an impressive and powerful live act as well.


“Battlephant” is the guitar-heavy title track from the debut album by Dunedin 4-piece The Violet-Ohs, released just a few days ago.

The Violet-Ohs grew out of one of Dunedin’s finest ‘post-rock’ bands A Distant City. That band included The Violet-Ohs’ Zac and Josh Nicholls along with Nick Tipa and was a seriously mind-bending live band even before the members left High School. The Violet-Ohs also share drummer Josh Nicholls with Space Bats, Attack!, so it should be no surprise to hear a bit of each band in this album.

A Distant City played mainly long instrumentals, and Violet-Ohs have refined that into a more condensed song-based approach, without losing any of the propulsive, multi-faceted sonic adventure of their previous band.

The songs are built around the skillful & adventurous psychedelic space-rock guitar skills of Zac Nicholls but also lent a distinctive high-quality vocal sweetness by the fine voice of Nick Tipa – a choral singer in his other life.

“Battlephant” reminds me a little of a riff-heavy version of Field Music, such is the intricate, restless, genre-hoping prog-rock of these well-crafted songs, and the way the vocals are layered.

The whole “Battlephant” album is a great, confident start for the band. It’s well worth checking out, particularly if you are a fan of the heavier side of Dunedin’s rock music heritage (thinking HDU, Operation Rolling Thunder and Idiot Prayer).


Day 13 of the May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month comes out of the mists of Whanganui farmland and a band called Greenfog.

Greenfog describe themselves as a “Two piece bi-gender band from Auckland. Plus Scott.” That’s Elliot Lawless, Rachael Elf and Scott Kendall.

“Bruce Farm”, named after Robert Bruce, the bloke who’s farm this was recorded on, is a heavy, dark and wonderfully atmospheric example of something NZ does pretty well (thinking of HDU, Jakob, Kill The Zodiac etc.)

I suppose you’d call it post-rock, or noise-rock or something. But this is less about ‘rock’ and more about music for landscapes; the space between notes, the decay on saturated distorted chords, the hypnotic droning warmth of distortion and repetition, the echo of drums around wooden walls. It’s slow, measured stuff and fans of Seattle band Earth will know just how mesmerising that can be.

There are 100 copies of the “Bruce Farm” LP. Don’t be slow and measured about contemplating a purchase if you enjoy this.

Sunken Seas

Sunken Seas

I’ve only seen Sunken Seas play once. It was in their hometown Wellington and the stage was backlit with white light and infiltrated by billowing clouds of dry ice. The band were silhouetted and threw giant lurching shadows out into the crowd. It was a perfect combination of mystery and menace from a band whose sound is untouchable post-industrial noise. Less shoegaze/ dream-pop and more skygaze/ fever-dream-pop.

Their most recent music is on the EP ‘Cataclysm’ released late last year via the always-reliable Muzai Records – a label consistently flying ahead of anyone else when it comes to forward-thinking music in New Zealand. It’s a great slice of atmospheric moody and beautiful noise. They opened for Bailter Space last year and represent a perfect new development of the Bailter Space template of sonic sculpture. However the music of Sunken Seas is more emotionally resonant – and human – than Bailter Space. The slower pace and big wide atmospheric space is also often more reminiscent of the best of High Dependency Unit/ HDU.

Sunken Seas play as part of Last Exit To Muzai – an event celebrating 5 years of Muzai Records – at Auckland’s Wine Cellar on Saturday 17 May 2014. Tickets are available for $10 from Muzai here.


“Nora Barnacle” is a blast from the wild side of the enigmatic Dunedin two-piece Astro Children. It is bound to polarise people even more than their earlier single ‘The One we Start With’ did (which broke some unwritten rules of alternative rock about how much phaser you can use).

The last couple of Astro Children singles have been from the more restrained pages of the songbook: the woozy out-of-focus strum of ‘Jamie Knows’ and the dislocated space-glaze pop of ‘Gaze’. But when Astro Children play live the swirling unhinged fury of songs like ‘Nora Barnacle’ are a big part of their compelling and sometimes challenging performances.

Straight away the sonic template they’ve been given by Dunedin Pop Underground maverick Adrian Ng gives this song an ominous crackling energy of loose wires running across a damp floor in a concrete bunker. The lightly phased and reverb washed drums from Isaac Hickey – the sometimes invisible but never inaudible foundation upon which Astro Children build their alternative otherworld – pulse and push the song forward.

I am the boy
who does enjoy

Millie Lovelock’s icy detached vocal coda at the start here reminds me of another favourite NZ artist – Claire Duncan as Dear Time’s Waste. But it soon gets blasted into a different realm when the guitar noise and vocal rage builds menacingly to the climax scream of ‘does it offend you!?’ at 2m 30s.

Structurally this is not pop (no verse/ chorus structure, just a building tension and release), nor is it punk or post-punk, nor even post-rock (whatever that is). There’s a reminder here of the power of Dunedin sonic space travellers High Dependency Unit/ HDU, but recorded on a Dunedin DIY budget, using brains more than brawn to fashion a convincing sonic template.

The compelling heart here is bizarre: Millie channelling her imaginary James Joyce (the song appears to reference Joyce’s letters to his muse and wife-to-be Nora) into the heart and soul of this apocalyptic raging starburst of a song. But Millie is a cryptic songwriter and I doubt that is all this song is about.

Astro Children can’t/ won’t be easily categorised. Is their thing space guitar punk pop with phasers set to stun? Is it delicate spaced-out folk-pop? Is it deconstructed post-rock noise? Is it wild crazy fury? Yes, it is all these things.

Unlike most bands, who set out to occupy a particular genre or scene, Astro Children have always just appeared to me to be Isaac & Millie doing what they want to do, whether or not anyone wants to hear it. But within that are puzzles to be unlocked, mysteries to be solved, moments of beauty to be admired and fierce rage to be enthralled/ repelled by. Audiences are either with them or against them; there’s not much middle ground.

Fittingly, Auckland label Muzai Records – a label that has never shied away from taking on and championing uneasy listening iconoclasts and misfits – is releasing the album – Proteus – this song is from.

As Shayne Carter observed in 2011 about musicians in Dunedin – “…people have had nothing to lose, or more pertinently, nothing to gain…. You’re braver when it doesn’t really matter, less self-conscious when you think nobody’s listening. Rock music is best when it’s not being careful,”

Does it offend you?